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Apple, Amazon valuations set to get a lot more attention Add to ...

Abnormal Returns makes a great point about the difference between Amazon.com and Apple Inc. : Their valuations aren’t even close. Based on 2012 earnings estimates, Apple shares trade at just 12.3 times earnings, whereas Amazon.com shares trade at a loft 72.9-times.

“They are in very different businesses but the valuation disparity is still striking,” the blogger said. “The point is that the market is putting very different valuations on two companies that are now coming into closer contact and competition. How this plays out over time will be fascinating.”

He is referring to the fact that on Wednesday Amazon.com entered the tablet computer market in a big way, raising the competitive pressure on Apple with the launch of its $199 Fire tablet – which aims to carve out a big chunk of the tablet market based on its low price and further expand the company from its start as an online book retailer.

If the Fire is indeed successful, Abnormal Returns is probably right: More investors will be comparing these two companies as peers – and that valuation discrepancy is going to have to be reconciled. Apple is actually more expensive than Amazon based on price-to-book ratios and price-to-sales.

But when it comes to earnings growth, the comparison isn’t close: Amazon has a five-year earnings growth rate of 25 per cent, versus nearly 44 per cent for Apple. The market, it seems, is skeptical that Apple can maintain this blistering pace, while it also seems to think that Amazon is just getting started.

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